Iraq will spend $300 million [350 billion Iraqi dinars] to upgrade six major hotels in Baghdad for an Arab summit next year, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told AFP on Tuesday.
"We will invest around 300 million dollars to transform our six largest hotels to international standards for the Arab summit at the end of March", Zebari said.
The hotels include the Rasheed [al Rashid], the centre of political life during the era of Saddam Hussein, who was ousted by the 2003 US-led invasion and later tried and executed.
It now lies within the heavily-fortified international "Green Zone" in Baghdad.
Also being renovated are the Mansour, the Palestine, the Ishtar (formerly Sheraton), the Baghdad, and the Babil, all of which have been targeted by car bombs or other violence since the invasion.
The government will pay 25 percent of the refurbishment costs and provide interest free loans for the rest, an official from one of the hotels told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Around 1,000 rooms will be refitted by Turkish, Jordanian and local companies, Zebari said.
Iraq has not held a regular Arab summit since November 1978, although it did host an extraordinary session in Baghdad in May 1990.
(Photo: Al Rashid Hotel, Baghdad. Photo credit:James Gordon)